Culture

“Grateful2Gurus”: Chennai Chapter Of Indic Academy To Honour 13 Dharmic Authors, Activists, Academicians, Artists

Prof K S Kannan.
Snapshot
  • Indic Academy’s Chennai Chapter is honouring gurus who have worked towards promoting and preserving Sanatana Dharma.

The Chennai Chapter of Indic Academy will be honouring 13 authors, activists, academicians and artists of Sanatana Dharma as part of its annual programme titled “Grateful2Gurus”.

Shri Bharatam R Mahalingam, Smt Sashikala Ananth, Shri Sarma Sastrigal, Shri Raghu Ananthanarayanan, Prof K S Kannan, Dr Gangadharan Nair, Prof M D Srinivas, Dr Rama Kausalya, Shri V Murali, Dr V Kameswari, Brahmshri Sundarakumar, Brahmasri Subrahmanyam Deekshita and Dr Mani Dravida Shastrigal will be honoured during the event on 7 September at Tatvaloka, Eldams Road, Chennai.

Former chief election commissioner Shri N Gopalaswami will preside over the ceremonies, which includes vedic chanting.

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Introduced three years ago by the Indic Academy on the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, the programme celebrates the values of Indic civilisation which created and nurtured a unique institution of guru-sishya parampara. It seeks to extend it’s gratitude to the recipients for their work in serving Dharma by felicitating them.

A total of 108 gurus are being felicitated this year as part of the “Grateful2Gurus” event across cities in India and abroad. The programme will bring their work before the larger samaj (community) so that their contributions will be appreciated by all.

Previous recipients include scholar Dr David Frawley (Pt Vamadeva Shastri), author Shrikant Talageri, Prof Kapil Kapoor, Dr S Kalyanaraman, archaeologist Prof B B Lal, epigraphist Dr R Nagaswamy, Shatavadhani Dr R Ganesh, Dr Sonal Mansingh, Dr Kanagabasapathi, Dr R Vasudevan, Prof Umadevi Ganesan, Dr Sadhana Rao and R Saraswathi Jois.

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Each awardee will be presented with a citation, cash award and a shawl.

Founded in 2014, Indic Academy’s mission is to preserve, protect and promote Indic civilisational identity, thought and values. It pursues a threefold strategy of transforming thinkers, nurturing networks and promoting platforms.

The Chennai Chapter is honoured to announce that 13 gurus have consented to be in our presence on 7 September at Tatvaloka, Eldams Road.

Here is a brief introduction to the gurus who will be honoured tomorrow (Saturday).

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1. Shri V Murali: Shri V Murali is the managing trustee of Dharma Sanjeevinee Bhavanam, Dharmic Revival Charitable Trust that conducts a host of activities towards preservation and revival of various traditional dharmic activities.

His vision has been to mould the future by recovering our ancient heritage through selfless service. Through a variety of activities, Shri Murali’s trust has been promoting vedic studies, restoring natural ecosystems, focusing on Ayurvedic treatments and developing devotion in youngsters with missionary zeal.

The most notable activity is establishing and growing palaash vanam, for supply of palaasa samith for samithadhanam and yagnas at several vedapatashaalas across south India. The trust also helps establish aalaya nandavanam and yagna vanam at various temples, in order to preserve and promote rare, endangered tree species, leaves of which find mention in our Vedas.

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Besides this unique activity, Shri Murali is also involved in several other dharmic activities including Go Samrakshanam, Aalaya Samrakshanam, Anna Daanam, Veda Samrakshanam, Yagna Samrakshanam and Naama Kendram (free distribution of namapatrams to schoolchildren and general public for encouraging bhakthi among them) and organising nama sankeerthanam.

Shri Murali is also a Founding Trustee of Kalaalayam, an educational trust that has helped provide free education to more than 20,000 children from poorer sections of the society, particularly orphans and tribal children.

2. Shri Sarma Sastrigal: Shri Sarma Sastrigal is an erudite Sanskrit scholar, a polyglot and the author of several books on Sanatana Dharma in various languages. He is the Founder-Trustee of Shri Mantra Peeteswari Veda Patasala, a gurukulam in Kumbakonam.

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Shri Sarma Sastrigal was born in Kumbakonam in 1949 into a traditional vedic family. Over the years, Shri Sarma Sastrigal has organised several day-camps, workshops, seminars, lectures and conferences on various topics related to Sanatana Vaidhika Achara Anushtanams. Shri Sarma Sastrigal has also been imparting the knowledge of the Vedas to spiritual enthusiasts of all ages through the traditional gurukulam system of education.

He has authored numerous books in English and Tamil on Indic heritage and culture, including the international best-seller The Great Hindu Tradition. His other books include Vedamum Panpadum, Appayya Deekshithar, A Journey Through Holy Places, Gaya Shraddha, Brahma Yagnam, Apara Karma to name a few.

He has organised Veda Parayanam for universal well-being at several holy sites across our nation including Pushkar in Rajasthan, Naimisaranyam, Rishikesh, Srisailam and Amarkantak.

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Shri Sarma Sastrigal has been the recipient of several honours and titles from various mutts and acharyas. He has been bestowed with the title of ‘Vaidika Marga Rakshamani’ by Jagadguru Kanchi Sankaracharya in 2018.

Besides receiving blessings from Kanchi acharyas, Shri Sarma Sastrigal has also been closely associated with the Ahobila Mutt and Vaishnava Acharya Jeeyar Swamigal.

3. Shri Bharatam R Mahalingam: Eminent actor, playwright and theatre doyen Bharatam R Mahalingam better known as 'Mali' is the Director of Melattur Bhagvata Mela Natya Vidya Sangam. He has been the artistic director of Melattur Bhagvata Mela Natya Vidya Sangam since the 1980s and is credited with preserving the traditional art form of Bhagvata Mela.

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Shri Mahalingam has been training artists and staging performances across the nation for over five decades. His natakams and performances are known for their skillful and traditionally rooted presentation, well-choreographed scenes and elaborate musical arrangements.

Shri Mahalingam was born in 1945 in Melattur and graduated with a degree in arts from the National College in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu. He also served as the village administrator in Melattur and has been associated with traditional folk theatre since the days of his uncle Shri P K Subbaraiyer, who sang for the Bhagavata Mela and father Shri Ramalingam Iyer, who promoted it.

Shri Mahalingam also owes his dedication and expertise in folk theatre to his mother, who contributed selflessly towards the preservation and propagation of Bhagavata Mela.

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Under the supervision of Shri Mahalingam, the Sangam brought out their first journal exclusively on Bhagavata Mela in 1994. They also published the work Markandeya written by Venkatrama Sastry in 1995.

He has also been responsible for developing the infrastructure of his theatre group, publishing books and facilitating a diploma and certification course in Bhagavata Mela in association with universities for folk theatre enthusiasts across India. He has incorporated the narration in English and Tamil in his plays in order to cater to the young and diverse audience.

He was also responsible for the consecration of the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, which houses a state-of-the-art permanent auditorium to propagate temple art forms.

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Through his numerous contributions, Shri Mahalingam has taught several generations of young artists the importance of working together and in unity. Over the years, he has inspired thousands of theatre enthusiasts, playwrights, musicians and actors to learn and promote the ancient folk theatre and temple art forms.

4. Smt Sashikala Ananth: Renowned scholar, author and expert of vaastu shilpi shastra, Smt Sashikala Ananth is an eminent architect who is also trained in human behavioural science.

Smt Sashikala Ananth is the disciple of Shri V Ganapathi Sthapati, a leading authority and renowned exponent of the vaastu shilpi shastras, from whom she learned both textual knowledge and practical field application for over a decade. She has been working with this knowledge close to 20 years, including intensive study of the classical texts, working with artisan communities and her own work as a temple designer and vaastu practitioner.

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Smt Sashikala’s research, teachings and expertise in design, space clearing techniques, vaastu healing and rituals have inspired several students to undertake the study of vaastu shilpi shastra and traditional temple architecture.

Smt Sashikala graduated with a degree in architecture from the School of Architecture, Madras University. She has studied the vaastu texts extensively, assimilating traditional wisdom and exploring its field application. Her books on vaastu include The Indian Tradition of Design Based on Vaastu Shastra , Pocket Book of Vaastu, The Penguin Guide to Vaastu and Vaastu: A Path to Harmonious Living.

She also translated Shri Ganapathi Sthapati’s book on iconometry, Shirpa Chennool, from Tamil to English, titled Pratima Mana Lakshanam. She was also a part of a team that made the 1991 award-winning film A Shilpi Speaks that explains the traditions of the sculptor.

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Smt Sashikala has also designed a sacred space called Ritambhara Ashram in the Nilgiris. At the Ashram, Smt Sashikala works on retreats, training programmes and projects incorporating the wisdom of vaastu in creative and harmonious ways with the modern lifestyle.

She and her husband Shri Raghu Ananthanarayanan are mentoring a group of young ‘sacred activists’ on how to live a dharmic and rasatmik life in the current context. She is a pioneer, who has been instrumental in bringing the ancient Indian tradition to an entire generation of architects and designers.

5. Shri Raghu Ananthanarayanan: Shri Raghu Ananthanarayanan is a renowned author, Indic scholar and management expert. He is a postgraduate in biomedical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. As a consultant to several blue-chip companies — Indian as well as multinational — he has devoted over two decades to transform the organisational culture of several leading companies and NGOs. He is one of the founders of Sumedhas — the academy for human context.

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Shri Raghu Ananthanarayanan credits his expertise in yoga shastras and Indic philosophy to the knowledge imparted to him by his illustrious gurus T Krishnamacharya Ji , T K V Desikachar, J Krishnamurti and Prof Pulin K Garg. He has been passionately attempting a convergence between Indian traditional wisdom and modernity.

He has authored books including Learning Through Yoga, Totally Aligned Organisation and Leadership Dharma: Arjuna the Timeless Metaphor. He regularly conducts Mahabharata immersion programmes, leadership programmes, and a host of other activities based on itihasa-purana tradition. He has pioneered an approach to process work that brings together the laboratory learning method with yoga and theatre.

Shri Raghu Ananthanarayanan has been engaged with grassroots developmental work and has enabled the development of many craft groups and a Tamil theatre group. Some of his pioneering designs for community mobilisation like the ‘Koodam’ have been a great success.

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He is now engaged in mentoring a young group of “sacred activists” called Ritambhara, as well as co-creating a platform of yoga teachers from the Krishnamacharya Tradition called “Ananta Yoga”. He is also associated with YogaVahini, training and healing centre that specialises in offering yoga teacher training and therapist training programmes.

6. Prof K S Kannan: Eminent Sanskrit scholar, author and academician Prof K S Kannan is the Chair Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences Department, IIT-Madras. He is the Academic Director of Swadeshi Indology Conference Series organised by Infinity Foundation India.

With over 35 years of rich teaching experience at the National College, Bangalore, Prof Kannan is also a nominated member of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. He was the former director at the Karnataka Samskrit University, Bangaluru.

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Amongst his numerous publications, the most recent ones are the four volumes he has edited, comprising the proceedings of the first and second Swadeshi Indology Conferences. He has authored over 25 books pertaining to Sanskrit grammar and literature. His scholarly substantive writings include The Theoretical Foundations of Ayurveda and Itihasa Puraṇa.

In addition, there is a significant body of translations and scholarly notes. Many of Prof Kannan’s works have been prescribed as textbooks, and published by Bangalore University. He has also translated Shri Rajiv Malhotra’s Being Different into Kannada, published as Vibhinnate. He has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented numerous research papers in international and national conferences.

Throughout his illustrious career, Prof Kannan has received several awards and prestigious titles from various institutions. He was conferred with the title ‘Vidyanidhi’ by HH Rangapriya Swamiji, Bangalore, and the International Merit Award for a paper on machine translation.

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In 2019, Prof Kannan was also bestowed with the honourable title ‘Vachaspati’ by the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati. Over the years, thousands of students and academics have been inspired to undertake research projects in the field of Indology and Sanskrit under the guidance of Prof Kannan.

7 Shri M D Srinivas: Shri MD Srinivas is a prominent mathematician and theoretical physicist of India. After obtaining a Masters in Physics from Bangalore University, he obtained a fellowship from the University of Rochester and completed his PhD thesis in quantum mechanics.

He is one of the few scholars from India who are proficient in ancient Indian mathematics, Indian literary, cultural and religious traditions and empirical science. Shri M D Srinivas is also an Indic scholar and a renowned author of many books and research papers.

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Shri M D Srinivas is the founder chairman of Centre for Policy Studies. He has also served in many prestigious institutions such as Indian National Science Academy, Indian Institute of Advanced Study and the Central Sanskrit Board.

Having traced the 2,000-plus-year history of Indian mathematics, science and other knowledge systems, he demonstrates how these have evolved independently and are distinctly different from Greco-European traditions.

His research reveals that a high level of systematisation was achieved at a fairly early stage and this was followed by significant developments all through the classical and medieval periods of Indian history. He emphasises that Indian contributions have also had a major impact on the development of sciences in other civilisation areas.

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He is passionate about reorienting our national priorities and giving importance to the preservation, digitisation, listing and cataloguing, editing and publishing, and promoting systematic studies of the ancient works that showcase the tradition of science and technology in India, and also training young academics in this field. He has been an inspiration to scores of scholars, who undertake higher education and research in a wide range of academic disciplines.

8. Dr Rama Kausalya: Dr Rama Kausalya is a musician, teacher, musicologist and propagator of culture and traditional values. She has served as the principal of Thiruvaiyaru Music College and is currently a member of the expert committee of Madras Music Academy, Dr Rama Kausalya has single-handedly, for the last four decades, ensured that Thanjavur continues to remain a hub for cultural activities, despite the shifting of the art capital to Chennai.

A voracious reader since childhood, it was Dr Kausalya’s keen interest in the theory and practice of music that led her to become a musicologist and scholar par excellence. Self-effacing, she is ever ready to take up projects which preserve and promote traditions, which are slowly disappearing as our villages and towns are transformed by modernity.

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Based in Tillaisthanam, near Tiruvaiyaru, a village known for its music and musical lineage, Dr Kausalya has taught the children of this region the music of the land, without any social discrimination. She is also the managing trustee of the Marabu Foundation, which is an organisation working for the promotion of peace and harmony through fine arts and literature.

With her in-depth knowledge in Indian classical music, Dr Kausalya has also taught some rare and ancient compositions to music teachers and musicians, ensuring that her music legacy is preserved for posterity.

9. Dr V Kameswari: Acclaimed Sanskrit scholar and academician Dr V Kameswari is the director of the prestigious Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai. She is one of the foremost Sanskrit scholars and academicians in the field of Sanskrit Literature.

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He obtained her PhD from the Adyar Library and Research in 1989. Several research papers and articles in numerous academic journals stand testimony to her literary acumen.

Dr V Kameswari has served as the chief editor for over 40 volumes of research publications and books at the KSRI, Chennai. The topics cover a wide range: Bhagavad Gita, Saiva Rituals and Philosophy, Kalamukha and Pasupatha Temples in Dharwar, Ramabhadra Dikshita and his works, Astanga Nighantu with Tamil and English and Patanjali’s Mahabhashya.

She has translated numerous Sanskrit and Tamil texts into English for the annual Dakshina published by the Sahitya Akademi, 100 verses of the Gita Govindam for the dance-drama programme by Kalakhsetra Foundation College of Fine Arts, Sri Siva Gitimala with word for word meaning for Kalakshetra Foundation, to name a few.

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She has played a significant role in various positions of seniority at institutions such as Samskrita Ranga, Samskrita Academy, Vishva Samskrita Pratishthan, Dakshina Bharata Samskrita Pracharini Sabha, The Presidency College and Vivekananda College, Chennai and Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.

Dr Kameswari has been the recipient of several honours including the Bahusrutam Yogambal Ammal Prize for being university first in Sanskrit. Her extensive teaching experience has inspired thousands of students, researchers and Sanskrit enthusiasts to undertake research and the study of ancient Sanskrit texts and Indic knowledge systems.

10. Dr Gangadharan Nair: Internationally-acclaimed Sanskrit scholar Dr G Gangadharan Nair is a doyen in the field of spoken Sanskrit. He is a distinguished polyglot. who holds a PhD in Sanskrit grammar and Master of Arts in Russian and Sanskrit.

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Dr Nair is one of the exceptional Indic scholars, who was trained in both the Vaidika traditional and Western systems of education. He has done extensive research on Indian theories of hermeneutics and has made invaluable contributions to the studies on ancient hermeneutics.

Dr Nair was born into a traditional family of reputed vedic scholars. He is the son of Shri V K Gopala Pillai, who was a freedom fighter and a renowned scholar of Sanskrit and Ayurveda. Dr Nair studied under the guidance of eminent teachers. Dr Nair went on to succeed his guru Prof M H Shastri as the faculty at the Government Sanskrit College in Kerala.

During his illustrious and inspiring career in academia, Dr Nair has held senior positions in reputed institutions of higher learning including Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Rashtriya Sanskrit University, Tirupati, A P Singh University, Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, and Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute, Cochin.

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Dr Nair's paper on ‘Non-Paninian Influence on Narayanabhatta’ is reputed as a comprehensive study on the alternative pragmatic approaches to Paninian grammar in Sanskrit.

As a guru to several thousand students, Dr Nair has inspired several Sanskrit enthusiasts to undertake research work. He was the research guide and guru to Dr Fathima Beevi, the first Muslim lady to get her PhD in Vedanta, the supreme branch of Hindu philosophy.

Dr Nair was honoured twice with the esteemed President of India Award for his remarkable contribution in the field of Sanskrit.

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